Sunday, September 16, 2012

Binge Drinking Parents



According to the Children's Commissar, Maggie Atkinson, 1 in 3 children live with a binge drinker.

Something Must Be Done!

Think of the Children!


I heard her being interviewed and she insisted this was what children were telling her- whilst parroting phrases that I've never heard anyone who is not a professional busybody utter. It turns out that these phrases were uttered by children in focus groups- given that even with adults focus groups tend to say what the person in charge wants them to say and the people in charge were professional busybodies, this isn't a surprise.

While I do not doubt that alcohol is the cause, or at least the catalyst, for a lot of social problems, it does not seem plausible that 1 in 3 children live with a binge drinker and that a ludicrously inflated figure is being used for the purpose of scaremongering. And sure enough the definition of binge drinking is men who have more than eight drinks on one session or women who have more than 6.

No definition of what a "drink" is, but I suspect that they are referring to units because the definition of binge drinking given by other bodies is 8 units for men and 6 for women. That is about three glasses of wine for a woman or three pints of beer for man. I often "binge" under this definition- having up to 12 units over the course of about 6 or 7 hours on a weekend day every so often. Yet I don't consider myself to be a binge drinker, as I drive home and beat my terrified family in an alcohol fueled rage..... or not.


The report does not say how often this one has to binge to be classified as a binge drinker either- is having three sherries over Christmas Day a danger?


Yet the Childrens' Commissioner uses figures derived from these kind of definitions to imply that scenarios like this are endemic in Britain:

‘“I need somewhere safe to go quickly when mum starts drinking and cutting herself but where can I go?”


That is a quote by a young person in the report. To which the only response is "Holy Shit! Your Mum has a problem". But it is not the kind of behaviour that is associated with three glasses of wine once in a while.


Either they should give honest statistics for the number of problem drinkers or illustrate the issue with examples that are more likely among "binge drinking" parents. But quotes like:

"Some times my Dad comes home with a takeaway before falling asleep for half an hour in the arm chair" 

 Would not generate much interest.

9 comments:

Macheath said...

Welcome back!

I'd be very interested to know how these children were selected and what the adults conducting the focus groups actually said.

Many years ago, a girl from my primary school class was involved in something similar. Although the findings were portrayed as reflecting society as a whole and extrapolated to give national figures, I know for certain that she and several others involved were in Local Authority homes or foster care.

Ross said...

That would be interesting to know.

These cases do exist, it is just that they are a lot less common than the figures given by the Children's Commissioner.

Targetting a small number of problem parents doesn't give as much scope to reorder society as an alarmist tract implying endemic alcoholism.

Henry Crun said...

""Some times my Dad comes home with a takeaway before falling asleep for half an hour in the arm chair"

Would not generate much interest."

Well, not yet...

A K Haart said...

"No definition of what a "drink" is, but I suspect that they are referring to units"

I suspect you are right. I've been wondering for some time if the ultimate point of a "unit" is to equate it with a "drink".

Peter Risdon said...

They're very unscientific. They don't look at the control case: what would happen if the parents couldn't have a bloody drink.

The booze industry saves the day again.

Ross said...

AKH- The "Unit" does seem quite arbitrary.

Peter- The scientific method is only useful when you want to find out what the answer is, not when you "know" the answer already.

PJH said...

"According to the Children's Commissar, Maggie Atkinson, 1 in 3 children live with a binge drinker."

She's lying.

From the introduction to the report itself:

"...the number of children who are affected by/living with parental alcohol misuse - is largely unknown. However, estimates suggest..."

JuliaM said...

"They're very unscientific. They don't look at the control case: what would happen if the parents couldn't have a bloody drink."

Well, indeed! I suspect the kiddies would have even more to moan about...

James Higham said...

three sherries over Christmas Day a danger

Do people actually have that many? What a drunken society we are.